Two young girls experience awakening sexuality in the heated atmosphere of a Swiss girls’ boarding school.
Radley Metzger’s atmospheric, soft-core, black and white German language tale of self-discovery was based on the racy memoirs of French author Violette Leduc, an admitted lesbian. The film was composed of flashbacks by an older Therese to twenty years earlier during a visit to the school.
This was the first and still one of the most realistic treatments of an adolescent lesbian love relationship – between two French boarding schoolgirl classmates (two adult females):
Therese (Essy Persson), brunette with pouty lips
Isabelle (Anna Gael), blonde with big eyes, older and more confident
In addition to the love-making scenes between the two of them, there was one auto-erotic scene and one unpleasant heterosexual experience, both for Therese. The girls’ first sexual experience together occurred clothed in a toilet stall and then in the school chapel, where Therese remembered how they clutched at each other’s uniforms, sobbed and grabbed at each other on the floor:
“I hugged her with all the strength of my repentance, I breathed her in, I pulled her tight against my belly and made a loincloth for myself. She was melting my ankles and knees into delicious decay. I had burst with warmth like a fruit. I was running with the same liquid sweetness. There were pincers softly tearing at me, oh so softly. I was following everything inside her. I could see with my inner eyes the light in her flesh. In my head, I had a Therese with opened legs straining up to the sky, who was receiving all that I was giving. We hugged to our hearts all the Thereses and Isabelles who would make love to one another later with other names. We rolled intertwined down a slope of shadows. We held our breath so that life and death should come to a halt. I stormed her mouth as one storms a beleaguered city. I was hoping to plunder and destroy both her entrails and my own. Isabelle cried in panic, but I persevered. Isabelle called for help.”
Isabelle described her own rising passion before experiencing an overwhelming orgasm and confessing “I love you” to Therese.
They also made love naked in bed (when Isabelle delivered oral sex to the reclining Therese) which the narrator described (in voice-over):
“She applied herself with such concentration that suddenly, everything became unreal. I thought how much I wanted to give her what she was giving me. My mind focused on her tongue. I didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing from her point of view, but if the pearl slipped away from her, she found it again. She was silent, intent on her own sensations. I was receiving what she was receiving. I was Isabelle’s. Her efforts, her rhythms were exciting me. The pearl was what she wanted. She was discovering the little male organ all of us have – the eunuch taking hard again. I felt stigmata open my entrails. I gripped Isabelle with a scissor movement of my legs. She became short of saliva. She created more. Suddenly, three fingers entered me. Three guests for the pleasure to cling to. I had a maddening eel battering itself to death against my inner walls. My eyes heard. My ears saw. Isabelle was injecting me with her own brutality. The rubbing was burning and painful. My limitations were even more painful still. The stubborn finger wakened my flesh. Each of its blows made my pleasure sharper than before. I drew it into myself. I forced it out again. I transformed it into the sex of a dog, red and naked. I was a maddened sun whirling through my flesh. My calves were ripening now that they had drunk their fill. I was wholly softened into an effable pique.”
Outdoors in the woods, when they both vowed their steadfast love and undying devotion to each other, Therese’s voice-over recalled their “irresistible forces.”
“We sank into unconsciousness, but we remained a single block, opposed to the darkness around us. There was no end to it as I crumbled from bliss to bliss, until I was all dust. Crushed her to me, quivering like the tips of brittle grass in winter. We did it from memory as though we’d caressed one another before we were born. She was reflecting me, I was reflecting her – two mirrors making love. I listened with her finger to the song my fingers were singing to her. I rocked her, sharpened her, I restored her confidence. Seeping streams of langour, cracks of sweating sweetness, washes of secret delight, walking on the water. I knew what that meant as my thighs glowed in that great river.”
Director: Radley Metzger
Tags: Anna Gaël, Anne Vernon, Barbara Laage, Darcy Pulliam, Essy Persson, Free movies 1968, Maurice Teynac, Nathalie Nort, Rémy Longa, Simone Paris, Suzanne Marchellier, Therese and Isabelle, Therese and Isabelle Online